Village, a 17th Century Fortress and an Impressive Gurudwara.
the holiest Sikh Shrines, Anandpur Sahib lies 75 km towards Dharamsala from Chandigarh.
Apart from the famous gurudwara, this historical site also boasts of an imposing 17th
North-west of Delhi, beyond the western edge of the Yamuna basin, lies the Land of the
Five Rivers, universally known as the Punjab. Endowed with rich agricultural soil,
plentiful irrigation and equable climatic conditions, the state is sometimes called the
granary of India. Its villages, large and small, are key to the robust Punjabi attitude to
life that has evolved through cross-cultural influences down the ages. The region is also
home to the origin of the Sikh faith whose founder Guru Nanak preached here till his death
460 years ago in 1539. With neighbouring Haryana, Punjab shares its capital at Chandigarh
where excellent train, road and air services connect the 250 km distance to Delhi.
From Chandigarh, barely 75 km up the highway towards Dharamsala and Manali, lies
Anandpur Sahib, the impressive gurudwara that is one of the holiest Sikh shrines.
Its picturesque village, flanked by a 17th century fortress, is framed between
the Shivalik hills to the east and the Sutlej river farther away in the west. Nature has
been generous here. Much of the year, vast green expanses will greet the visitor during
the journey and also at the destination. Be they the kharif (summer) crops of maize
and paddy or the rabi (winter) wheat emblazoned with mustard, there is a profusion
of sylvan tranquility all round.
Before the monsoon, the early sunrise will be followed by groups of men and women
setting out to ready their fields for the kharif sowing. With the rainfall, the
landscape transforms to extensive waterlogged patches where the paddy must stand before it
gets ready for the harvest.
The rabi season is different. Shawl flung across the shoulder, ones farmer
friend will walk one through the bracing air to where the buffaloes are tethered. Under
the canopy of a peepul tree on the fringe of the ripening, golden wheat, there is
simply no gastronomic experience to match a thali of sarson da saag with makke
di roti topped off with a tall glass of fresh lassi.
As one goes towards the interior, some of the elders will readily draw up a cot to sit
and barter information over a drink of sugarcane juice. Interspersed with gentle Gurmukhi,
the language of the Granth Sahib or holy scripture of the faith, the conversation will
veer round to the quality of the crop, the prices of agricultural inputs and how modern
technology has been double-edged in its possibilities for multi-cropping but at escalating
One of the commonest means of transport is the ubiquitous tractor. As its sputter
punctures the calm of the village, one may join a colourfully dressed group setting off to
the market. And when it is harvest time, virtually the entire village will lend a hand to
cut and thresh the crop and stack it up before it is despatched for sale to the nearest mandi.
Around this time, the festival of Baisakhi will witness renewed vigour. One may join in
the zesty bhangra as gaily-attired men and women charge the air to a resounding
drumbeat. Or on the day after Holi, join in the celebration of Hola Mohalla for
a re-enactment of the old battles that bore testimony to Sikh valour. In the distance, the
Sutlej flows on, having descended to the plains near Anandpur Sahib through its timeless
journey from Rakshas Tal at the foot of Mount Kailash in Tibet.